“Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age” – Colin Powell
On August 3rd, 2017, two Fortress Staff Instructors and myself attended a seminar titled Preparedness for, and Response to, Urban Mass-Casualty Incidents, presented by IDF Reserve Colonel, Professor Isaac Ashkenazi, MD.
For two hours the good Colonel, as kindly as possible, told a room full of American police and politicians that the general attitude towards terrorism and mass casualty event response in this nation is WRONG. From philosophy, to planning, to implementation, we’re chasing our tails. And, I agree. It’s not from lack of trying or good intentions, we’re simply going about this wrong.
To know how to respond to terrorism, we have to understand what it is.
– Terrorism is a PSYCOLOGICAL TOOL used for STRATEGIC LEVERAGING. The target of terrorism is NOT the victims, it’s the public/witnesses. The goal is to reduce public resiliency.
– Terrorism is ASYMETRIC WARFARE – The enemy values are the opposite of ours. They target innocents and employ human shields.
– Terrorists (and active murderers) are not focused on punishment, they are focused on “teaching a lesson.” You might want to stop reading for a moment and revisit that last statement. Read it again, and think about it. It’s not “payback”, it’s mind control.
Knowing that, what should the appropriate response to an attack be? Less freedom? Less personal liberty? Gun free zones? Suspension of rights? Pressure cooker registration? Patting down 9-year-olds at the airport? Denying the rights of assembly and self-defense to the citizenry? Should you “circle the wagons” in a knee-jerk reaction that plays to emotions rather than logic?
When you self-inflict fear-based reductions of liberty, it counts as a success for the enemy; it demonstrates to the next wave of maniacs that the methods work. They, to use the competitive analogy, have gotten in your head.
How does Israel do it?
Israel is a nation of 8-million people occupying the space of Lake Michigan. In the last 7-years they have experienced upwards of 22,500 terror attacks inside their borders. They deal with terror, literally, every day.
After taking over the planning and coordination of mass casualty event response in Israel, Dr. Ashkenazi made sweeping changes in procedures.
Drawing information from past events, and studying attacks in real time, his team came up with these basic concepts as the foundation of the new program.
With all things defense related, TIME MATTERS! During perpetration and training, time is an ally. During a crisis, time is the enemy. With improper response, you can exacerbate a disaster. Thus, they base all procedures on:
The Three Principles of Response:
Fast – No matter where you are, what you’re doing, how you’re dressed – GET THERE NOW!
Light – Travel light so you can run. You will most likely have to ingress the area on foot.
Smart – Be flexible. Allow what is working to work.
They couple that with:
The Three Goals of Response:
- Save Lives
- Decrease Morbidity [Morbidity: An attitude, quality, or state of mind marked by excessive gloom.]
- Elevate Resilience
And the goals are accomplished through:
The Five Stages of Response:
- Post Hospital
How does all of this work?
Employing the concept of pressure creates diamonds, Dr. Ashkenazi set an arbitrary timetable for response, transport, investigation, and clean up. It is:
• Within 5-minutes, Commander should be on scene. The Commander does not have to be LE, Fire, or EMS. Any bystander willing to direct may take control. If you’re 10-years-old, or a tourist – they don’t care. If you want it, it’s yours – get in there and start directing the life saving effort.
Bystanders – everyone is authorized to help. Everyone is EXPECTED to help. Moving rubble off of victims – applying direct pressure – driving vehicles. The bystanders are the first responders!
• Within 20-minutes, all victims are rendered immediate aid and cleared from scene. Transported in any way possible. Private cars, cabs, dump trucks, city buses, golf carts – anything that rolls.
Distribution – Waiting for ambulances will not help as many victims as immediately getting them to the trauma center will. And, 50 ambulances converging on a scene only creates a traffic jam, as we saw with the Aurora, CO, theater attack.
Pre-Hospital – Training the public in the basics of wound treatment. Having the bystanders stop the bleeding, and continue to do so on route, saves more life than allowing people to bleed for 10-minutes to an hour until SWAT declares the area “safe.”
• Within 60-minutes, all victims are in the hospital and being treated.
Hospital – This is to save life as much as it is to build morale with the public. The message is: if you are a victim of this, we will do everything in our power to make you whole again. You will receive the best care available, immediately!
Along with that, the press is invited to interview any patient that is willing, and the doctors involved give regular updates to the press with an emphasis on how well the survivors are doing. Nothing is hidden.
• Within 180-minutes (3 hours), scene cleared of evidence, blood, etc… A couple of extra hours may be requested under special circumstances, but you can get all the evidence you need in that time. Investigators do not own the scene – public property belongs to the public. Private property belongs to private individuals. EMS, LE, and government agents should be quick, and GONE. [Obviously clean up will not be as fast with a 9/11 level of destruction, but that is only one of thousands of attacks. This can be accomplished the vast majority of the time.]
Post-hospital – Police and Investigators share with the public all information about the attack as soon as they know. No secrets.
• Within 2 to 4-days, the area should be reconstructed. Scene is back to normal.
Allowing the crime scene to stand longer than that turns it into a SHRINE FOR TERRORISM. Keeping it in the news cycle and continuing to project the images across the nation reduces public resiliency. The MORBIDITY factor sets in.
On the other hand, the image of the scene back to normal and people going about their lives, that demonstrates resiliency! That teaches a lesson to the enemy: You will never win. You will never defeat us. Your actions will not alter our daily lives!
And, you know what? Israel regularly gets the job done on this time line, and their people get on with life.
What should we do?
– Encourage your local elected officials, police, public works employees, and EMS to attend Dr. Ashkenazi’s presentation, or at least send a surrogate. Lives depend on it.[They can also download and read the Dept of Heath and Human Services published guide on Mass Casualty Response the Dr. co-authored.]
– Whether or not your local government listens to or implements his ideas, practice them in your own life. Form a plan – be ready to proactively respond. Be like the Marine who loaded wounded into a truck and got them out of harms way in Las Vegas.
– Get training on wound stabilization! learn how to use trauma dressings like the Israeli IBD, as well as tourniquet application. Have those items with you, on your person!
The LVMPD’s response to the mayhem in their city last week was stellar! Of all the metro police departments I’ve seen in this nation, their training is outstanding. There are lots of people responsible for changing the program and improving coordination and general attitude, but the one I’ve met personally is Andrew Locar – and his influence on the firearms training methods and performance expectations in that department is the standard I’d like to see every department in the nation adopt. He, and all the others, deserve every bit of praise they can get! Vegas has been anticipating an attack like this for decades, as they demonstrated with their amazing handling of this latest mass casualty event! Well done!
…of course, it would have been even better with a populous trained to stop bleeding, carrying the gear they need to do so. That is a change you can make today that is not dependent on a carry permit or regulations at work. Do it!
– Get training, get armed. There’s not much any armed citizen could have done with a pistol from 400-yards away, at night, during the latest attack in Vegas. On the other hand, maybe someone in the next room or across the hall could have. We’ll never know. But, should opportunity present itself, don’t be the Federal agent begging a gun off a citizen because he couldn’t be bothered to carry that day.
– If you see something, DO SOMETHING! …that may mean simply calling authorities, but “say something” is often not enough. The Dr. made reference to the Sbarro Restaurant Bombing from 2001 as an example. A patron noticed the bomber approaching, and went outside to confront him. At that moment the bomber detonated his device. Yes, the goodguy lost his life, but he was dead anyway. Confronting the attacker prevented his entrance and saved hundreds of lives!
– Resist every effort to take your liberty! There is no gun law, no metal detector, no license, fee, fertilizer ban, or safety procedure that will stop a motivated murderer from harming others. The answer is empowerment of the individual, not creating a nation of sheep herded into mass victim zones waiting to be slaughtered.
On the subject of sheep, during my lifetime there’s been a slow roll away from logic and reason towards emotionally-based rhetoric coupled with institutionalized victimhood. Facts don’t matter, just feelings. Individualism only counts when a group demands funding for their bright ideas – it’s “our collective problem”, but “your individual responsibility to fund it”, or “your individual rights that need to be erased to cure it.”
I’ve said it before, we’re producing a nation of dishrags whose greatest skill-set is blaming others for all their ills, including their own poor choices and behaviors.
We’re weak. And we’re turning it into a virtue.
Even in police and military circles we default to the degrading idea of humans as “wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs.” People who might agree with my above statements, are actually brainwashing themselves into looking at the people who sign their checks – AMERICAN taxpayers – as sheep. Americans are not supposed to be sheep – We’re supposed to be AMERICANS! Don’t Tread On Me, death to tyrants!, gun carrying, world exploring, technology inventing, ruff riding, drag racing, coal mining, land taming, steel working, oil drilling, crab fishing, Normandy invading, badasses!
We have cuts on our knuckles and dirt under our nails – we’re a people who run towards the sound of gunfire in order to return it – and return it with an accuracy and effectiveness above any other in the world.
“We” should be promoting the individual!
“We” should be promoting strength!
“We” should be raising generations of citizens who know how to think, care, and fight for themselves – not wards of the state who freeze in the face of adversity, waiting be told what to do by their surrogate parent, government.
It’s time to get ourselves right – the next attack is coming, and its focus will be to top the latest casualty numbers.
“Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.” – Bruce Lee
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